Season Premiere July 24 at 9/8c
Season 12, Episode 4: Ties A-Plenty
This week we open in media res on an epic argument between Ken, Helen, and Sandro. It gets so heated that Sandro runs out of the building and hits the camera that's trailing him. Buckle up for some drama! Sigh.
We flash back to the day of the challenge. Tim Gunn introduces Modern Family's Jesse Tyler Ferguson, who with his fiance founded the menswear-based charity and advocacy organization Tie the Knot. Thankfully for the designers (and the judges, and the viewers), this isn't a menswear challenge! Instead, the designers are tasked with creating looks inspired by the ties Jesse has provided. They must incorporate at least one tie into their design. The designers get 30 minutes at Mood, eleven hours to work, and a suggested spending limit of $200.
Workroom shenanigans: Helen struggles after her critique with Tim, admitting that she doesn't handle criticism well; Sue, who over-spent by $200 at Mood, makes two looks because she's indecisive; Jeremy gets the news that his grandmother passed away, and since he won't be able to leave the show to attend the funeral, he seems understandably withdrawn. Tim tries to make Sandro understand that catering entirely to the judges' preferences might get him far on the show, but won't help him succeed once it's over. Sandro clearly just wants to figure out the cheat code that will allow him to bypass the rest of the season and win the whole thing right now.
After the runway show, the judges deem Karen, Ken, Alexandria, Justin, Alexander, Sandro, and Helen safe for the week. But they take a second to scold Helen: Nina suggests that the only reason Helen won last week was because of Kate's influence, a totally valid observation to which Helen takes offense anyway because she can't handle criticism, remember?! Nina and Heidi let Helen know in no uncertain terms that they want to see better from her next week.
Then, despite the fact that he's safe, Sandro demands feedback from the judges. Zac praises Sandro's garment construction but notes (again) that Sandro's taste level is an issue. This doesn't please Sandro one bit. While the judges deliberate, we find ourselves back in the middle of the heated argument that opened the episode. Sandro and Helen get into it over the importance of having respect for the judges and for the "Runway" process. Ken tries to intercede, which only serves to make Sandro crankier. As we saw in the beginning, Sandro runs out, hits the camera, and escapes.
Meanwhile, the judges make their decisions:
Bradon - A crop top made of hand-stitched bowties in shades of gold and brown, paired with tweed shorts and a jacket. Bradon's craftmanship is fawned over by the whole panel. Jesse thinks it's a homerun. Zac calls it "a labor of love without looking labored." Bradon gets his second win of the season -- and uses his time on the runway to propose to Josh, his partner of 18 years. At the end of the episode, Bradon videochats with Josh, who, inspired by the Supreme Court striking down DOMA and Prop 8, coincidentally proposes as well. A heartwarming moment, for sure.
Dom - A black-and-white striped dress with colorful striped bowties pieced together around the neck and right shoulder. Nina calls it "adorable" while Zac and Heidi compliment how seamlessly Dom arranged the fabric's pattern. It's not the winner, but Dom has officially caught the judges' eyes with this one.
Kate - This combo of an open-backed tunic with belt details and a modified-tuxedo-stripe pant gets the judges' approval for its wearability and sexiness. Kate seems to be on a roll so far this season.
Miranda - Houndstooth extravaganza! A cropped houndstooth jacket and houndstooth pencil skirt offset an emerald green top. The judges are bored, calling into question Miranda's decision to leave her model's midriff exposed and the minimal incorporation of bow ties. They emphasize that they need to see more from her than pencil skirts.
Sue - A black jersey dress with bowties assembled on top of it like a sort of kelp exoskeleten. Heidi is in disbelief: "What a mess! It's so crazy. I don't understand it. It's memorable, but it's kind of like 'What was she thinking?' memorable." Zac calls it "Octopussy" and Nina is reminded of Sigourney Weaver in "Alien." Thumbs down all around.
Jeremy - A bright orange lace top with a high-backed collar and long sleeves, plus a pair of brown pants. The panel agrees that despite the solid construction of the garments, its overall effect is more akin to (in Jesse's words) "a really gorgeous 68-year-old actress receiving her Kennedy Center honors." Acceptable, but old.
Because of Sandro's outburst, he's out. (It's not totally clear if he withdrew from the competition or if the producers disqualified him.) That means Sue, Miranda, and Jeremy survive to see another challenge. How do you feel about Sandro's departure? Do you think one of the bottom three designers should have been eliminated anyway? Which look was your favorite? Let me know in the comments.